The United States had its first good performance of the 2017 Gold Cup, beating Nicaragua 3-0 in Cleveland.
We move on to the tournament quarterfinals as the winners of group B, meaning we won’t find out who we’ll play Wednesday in Philadelphia until Sunday’s games are over. But, the team should get a lot stronger, with Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey, Darlington Nagbe, Tim Howard and Jesse Gonzalez all joining the roster.
It could have been that Nicaragua just didn’t care to put up a fight, but the US was much better than the previous two matches–actually linking up and creating chances, albeit mostly from the wings. Joe Corona buried the first goal after taking several (probably too many) touches, Kelyn Rowe continued to shovel coal into his own hype train engine with his pretty touch and finish on the second goal, and Matt Miazga proved Bruce Arena should remember his name after smashing home the third.
It could have been 5-0 though, with Nicaragua’s goalkeeper saving penalty attempts from both Dom Dwyer and Joe Corona. Too often, we call saved penalties “poorly taken,” but, in these cases, both shots were placed at the right height for the keeper to make the saves. If our penalty taking has you worried, remember this: in the Gold Cup quarterfinals and semifinals, matches that are tied after 90 minutes go straight to penalties. Fun!
So who was good?
Kelyn Rowe – He’s gone from a guy I was surprised to see on the roster, to a guy who may have penciled in a World Cup roster spot in the last few games. His first touch and finish on the team’s second goal were both fantastic. And I love his willingness to crack a long shot.
Alejandro Bedoya – He looked like our captain and a leader out there. He assisted on the first two goals, and nearly had a third after he forced the handball penalty. Great game from Ale.
Bill Hamid – He didn’t have to do a lot, but a clean sheet is a clean sheet. Gotta love the bald head, too. He’s looking to take over for Timmy and Brad with that haircut.
Matt Miazga – He was solid defensively and had the third goal. Will this mean he gets another chance under Bruce Arena? Probably not, but he certainly gave Bruce something to think about.
While the team was much better, we can obviously trip up in a Gold Cup, as we showed in 2015. Nothing is guaranteed, even with some of our stars joining the roster. But, at the very least, it’ll feel good to be a US fan for the next few days.
REMINDER: We’ll have our usual Tuesday night show, where we’ll preview Wednesday’s match. And we’ll be back Wednesday with post-match show. See you then!